I Want A Road

Photo credit: Bilal Bhadur
Photo credit: Bilal Bhadur

by Shamim Meraj

Last week when I was driving down to work, I saw this scribbled on the back of a truck “I want better roads – I pay road tax”. Generally, the stuff written on the back of trucks is poetic, mostly of heartbroken poetry. This one though was thought-provoking and ironic. As I drove, the words seemed to strike me. Here in Kashmir, people stuck in nostalgia still had the cheek to call it paradise on earth. Forget the politics of it, even from the truck driver’s point of view, Kashmir was a long way from Paradise.

Within minutes of reading this gospel truth on the back of the truck, my car started to bump heavily as the road beneath turned into a mixture of gravel. Mind you, I was driving right into the heart of the city and I preferred to take the Abdullah Bridge route which was equally rigid and rough in its terrain. As I write these lines, I still cannot recall one road in Srinagar that we can call motorable. And that is despite yearly dredging and black-topping for the past decade.

How is it that the roads and the topping melt away in a span of months? How, every February, in the chill of the winter, the government suddenly remembers to patch up the roads knowing fully well that in winter conditions the project is not feasible. How is it that every year thousands or crores are spent on the repairing of roads that were repaired only last year?

Why should we all, who pay taxes, suffer the inefficiency of a system? After all, we all work hard to earn our bread. Aren’t we supposed to pay taxes so the government can provide us ‘services’ (that’s what we were taught in school)? Or should we just sit back, pay our taxes silently so that someone else enjoys life to the full, while we continue to suffer. I protest. Lets all of us put a sticker on our cars “I want better roads, I pay road tax”.


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